The Voices Inside and Out (Free Fiction)

The Voices Inside and Out

A.J. Brown

Sometimes I get tired of all the voices talking to me, telling me to do and say things. Mom said they are all in my head, just my imagination running wild. Maybe she’s right, but I don’t think so. Here is why:

The voices—the ones that really are in my head—they always sound like me. Sure, one may be higher pitched than others. One may be deeper. One may sound like a kid, but it is me when I was that kid. One may even be a happy sounding, gayer version of me, but it is still me. One is grumpy and mean-spirited, and I swear one of them is a drunk. Those voices, the ones that whisper for me to do things I probably shouldn’t do, they are all me in some way or other. And I recognize them as me. I guess that is why when I do things—bad things—I know the devil didn’t make me do it, or even the voices in my head. They are all me. I did the things I told me to do. 

Here is another reason, and it is the reason why I have to do what I am about to do:

These other voices are male and female. They are young and old, though I don’t believe any of them are children. And they don’t tell me to do things. They just scream and cry and beg me to set them free. Set them free? Like I can do that?

There’s one other reason:

I’ve only heard them since coming to this hotel. Isn’t that odd? 

elevatorI work here, doing simple janitorial crap, like changing the toilet paper in the bathrooms or wiping down the tables in the hotel restaurant. It’s a lousy job but it puts a roof over my head and it pays me enough so I can eat and go to the movies, and occasionally, visit the street corner ladies down on Market Street. (This I find funny in and of itself—I can choose the woman I want to have a night with on Market Street. Sometimes I think of it as Meat Market Street, but I don’t tell them that—can you imagine how they would take it if I told them they were nothing more than meat to me? That’s beside the point, though.) It’s not much of a living, but it’s better than what I had before. 

Still, I don’t care much for most of the tenants. The ones that come daily are needy and arrogant and somewhat entitled since they pay ‘good money’ to sleep, shower, or get laid here. They want clean sheets and a clean room, and I get that. I do, too, but that is housekeeping, and I don’t do that. I fix sinks and toilets and drill holes in walls so I can watch some of the activities. Three floors of this place and when the right person gets in the right room, well, that’s free entertainment right there.

But I guess some of the tenants don’t care much for that—the lady in 218 who caught me peeking in at her while she showered. She sure had a fit. She tried to get me fired, but my manager—his name is Horace, but I just call him Pudge—couldn’t do it. Well, he tried, but one of those voices—one of my voices—told me I couldn’t let him do that. So, I didn’t.

It took a little bit of persuading for me to get him to the elevator and out of my hair. There’s no actual elevator, but the shaft is there and a drop from the first floor down to the basement didn’t kill him, but it hurt him pretty good. The woman in 218 went down there with him. Come to think of it, a good many of the long term folks have found their way to the elevator shaft. I heard the lady from 218 say Mr. Williams from 311 was dead. He apparently landed awkwardly and broke his neck. 

“Fresh meat,” I yelled back. I laughed—she did not. Humorless tramp.

Now, you see, the voices I’ve been hearing lately aren’t in my head. No, they are in the elevator shaft. Every time I toss someone else in, I look down into the darkness. Hands reach up out of the dark, as if they are coming right out of the shadows. They are women and men, young and old, and they complain and whine and moan and cry and scream so much. It’s driving me nuts.

So here I am, the elevator shaft open, a gas can in hand. They are screaming down there. I guess they don’t like the smell of gas. Whatever, the real voice in my head—the one that is solely me—is tired of competing with them. I light a match and drop it. I see their hands reaching. I hear their screams. And the voices in my head—all of them—scream with them.

__________

I often joke about the voices in my head, all 27 of them. They are young and old, male, and yes, there are a couple of females in there. They are not in control. They are never in control and they usually don’t like it.

The squirrels are in control. However, they usually only last a day at a time. Each day a new squirrel takes over when I wake in the morning. By the end of the day, the squirrel usually dies of exhaustion. Seriously, keeping up with my mind is difficult. The voices laugh and cheer when a squirrel dies. They are sick.

I kid you not when I say that is where this story came from. Seriously. No kidding.

I hope you enjoyed The Voices Inside and Out. Please share, like and comment. I greatly appreciate it.

A.J.

The Two

The Two

By A.J. Brown

The windshield wipers beat a rapid tattoo along the front glass, trying uselessly to keep up with the rain pouring down. It was a dark night, made darker by the clouds blocking out any moonlight. The road twisted and wound its way through trees on either side. Pot holes cratered the road every few feet, jarring the car all over the wet, slick pavement. 

“You took a wrong turn,” Marissa said. She stared out the front window while her right hand clutched tight to the door’s arm rest.

“I followed the directions,” Chet said, “at least until this storm hit and the GPS lost signal.”

“Then the directions are wrong. We’ve been driving down this road for miles, there is nothing out here. Turn around.”

“I can’t turn around, the road is too narrow, and the shoulder’s non-existent. If you haven’t noticed, water is covering the road and I don’t know if there are ditches on either side. If I try turning around we might get stuck, or worse.”

“Then, what’s your plan?”

He looked at her. Though the car was as dark inside as the world was outside, he could still see the side of her face, the silhouette on the backdrop of the passenger’s side window. “The road has to come out somewhere, right?”

Marissa’s eyes grew wide. Her right foot shot out in front of her, mashing an imaginary brake pedal. Her left hand clutched her seat. “Watch Out!” 

Chet slammed on the breaks and looked back to the road. The car slid and tires caught dirt and gravel. It went sideways and toward an unknown ditch or soft shoulder he couldn’t see. He jerked the steering wheel to his left. The car fishtailed then went sideways again before it came to a stop, somehow still in the road.  

For several long seconds both Chet and Marissa sat, not saying anything and holding their breaths. They both let the air flow from their lungs simultaneously, relaxing slightly.

“Oh my God,” Marissa cried when she looked out of her window.  “You almost hit them.”  

Hit what?”

“Those children,” she said, looking back at him. “Didn’t you see them?”

“No, I was …” He paused. How many times had she told him to keep his eyes on the road? How many times had he not listened and veered into other lanes? “I was trying to find a place to turn around when you screamed. I just reacted.” It was a partial lie, the only part being true was he reacted to her scream.

Chet looked at the road. The car had come to a stop facing the opposite direction they had been going. Any other time, he would have thought that was a good thing, but right then, he stared out the window, at the pouring rain beating on his car and the road and … and what he thought was a lump of something in the road. His skin prickled as he thought that lump could be kids. 

That’s impossible, he thought. Why would kids be in the middle of the road out here, in fricking Egypt?

“Chet, we need to check on them and make sure they are okay?”

“Are you sure that is a kid?”

Two kids, Chet. Two kids, and I am positive. I saw them while you were busy not looking at the road, again.”

“I was looking for a place to turn around,” he yelled.

“I’m sure you were.”

“Let’s just go,” Chet said and put the car into gear.

“Wait. What? You’re not going to check on those kids? Are you serious?”

“I don’t see any kids, Marissa.”

“They’re right there in the road, Chet. How can you not see them?”

“I don’t know what that is in the road, but it isn’t a couple of kids.”

“Look again.”

Chet did, straining his eyes, trying to see through the rain. He flicked the bright lights on and his breath caught in his throat.

“I can’t believe it.”

“I told you.”

“What are we going to do?”

“We need to help them, Chet.”

He licked his lips. He didn’t like the idea of getting out of the car in the storm, but Marissa was right. They had to help those two kids. 

Chet opened the door and wished he had thought to bring an umbrella with them, but it had been bright and sunny when they left home earlier. The rain soaked his left side even before he got out of the car and stared at the road. He was drenched within seconds, but it didn’t matter right then. Two small kids, the oldest maybe three and a girl, the youngest not even able to stand on its own and possibly a boy, were in the road.  The girl sat in the road, her legs crossed. She cradled the boy in her arms. They looked to be no more than 20 feet in front of the car, which didn’t seem possible to Chet—they had been a good sixty feet or so seconds earlier. At least, he thought they had been.

Marissa opened her door and stood, closing it gently. The little girl looked up at her with deep brown eyes filled with fear. Her long brown hair was flat and stuck to a face that appeared dirty, even in the rain. Her dress and shirt were tattered and clung to her body. The little boy wore a dirty one piece out fit that appeared too small for him.  

“Hey,” Marissa said as she walked slowly toward them. “Are you okay?”

“That’s kind of a dumb question, Honey,” Chet said, rounded the car and stood next to her. Even with the rain pouring down on them, they didn’t hurry, they didn’t risk the chance of startling them. ”What are we going to do?”

“We can’t leave them here,” Marissa responded. “I would hate myself if we just left them out here to die.”

“How do we get them in the car? They don’t know us. They might not go with us.”

girl-3813105_1920“Hold on,” Marissa said and squatted down. She waddled slowly to the little girl, stopping within an arm’s reach of her. The little girl didn’t flinch or attempt to move away.  She only looked up at her with those sad doe eyes that seemed to reflect in the glare of the headlights.

“Are you okay?” Marissa asked again.

The little girl shook her head.

“Is this your baby?”

She shook her head from side to side. 

“Is this your sibling?”

She nodded.

“Where’s your parents?”

There was no response this time.

“Do you have a mommy?”

Another simple nod.

“Do you know where she is?”

The little girl looked toward the woods, then back at Marissa. With one small hand she pointed at the trees.

“Your mommy is over there?”

A nod.

“Chet, can you—”

“Yeah, I’m on it,” Chet said. He didn’t want to be on it. He didn’t like the idea of walking into the woods at the whim of a creepy little girl. As far as he knew, her parents could be waiting in there to ambush him. They would kill him and kidnap Marissa. They would do all sorts of bad things to her before killing her and burying her in a shallow grave. 

Instead of going straight to the woods, he went back to the car. He popped the trunk and rummaged around the junk in there for a flash light and a weapon. He found a screw driver and picked it up. It might not be much, but it would work as a knife if he needed to.  He flicked on the flashlight and walked to the edge of the road and shined the light into the woods.  

Mostly, he saw trees and underbrush. The beam of light shone on a swath torn into the woods. Just beyond it was a battered car.

“Oh no,” he whispered. He glanced back at Marissa. She was still squatting in front of the two children. Chet stepped into the woods and carefully picked his way over broken tree limbs and flattened bushes. When he reached the car he turned the light to the driver’s side window.  His breath stuck in his lungs. A man and woman were in the front seat, their heads split open, the windshield shattered. The rain had washed a lot of the blood away, but he saw a clump of brain tissue and hair clinging to the windshield where the woman’s head and struck it. 

Chet shook his head and backed away as his stomach rumbled. For a few seconds, he thought he would throw up, but somehow managed not to. He stumbled back along the ruined foliage, slipping a couple of times in the mud but not tumbling to the ground. He left the trees behind and hurried to Marissa and the children.

“Did you find their mother?” Marissa asked.

He shook his head and said nothing at first. Finally, he said, “Their parents are … ummm … gone.”

“Gone?”

He nodded. “Dead.”

“Oh no.” It was hard to tell, but Chet thought tears had formed in Marissa’s green eyes. She wiped at them and turned back to the two children—the two orphans.

“Do you want to come with us?” she asked. “We’ll get you something to eat and clean you up and try to find some of your relatives.”

Again, the little girl nodded.  

“Can I take the baby?” Marissa asked.

The girl looked down at her brother, gave a quick nod, then held the child out to her. Marissa looked the baby in her arms, cradled him gently. 

“Come on,” Chet said, held his hands out to the little girl. She reached for him. Chet lifted the girl from the ground. She wrapped her arms around his neck.

“Everything’s going to be okay,” he said.

As they hurried back to the car, the little girl lifted her head and looked toward the woods where the car had caromed off the road. A smile creased her young face, revealing two sharp teeth.

__________

This is one of those stories that just kind of happened. An image popped into my head of a little girl sitting in the street, cross legged. In her arms was a baby boy. It was raining. From there the story kind of told itself. However, when I got to the end, the easy thing to do was create a happily ever after type of scenario. 

Come on. This is me we’re talking about. 

As I wrote the last part where Chet and Marissa pick up the two children and take them to the car, I saw the little girl smiling. Behind that smile were sharp teeth. I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to make the story just a little darker.

Are the two children vampires? Are they something else? Did they kill the couple in the car in the woods? Are they going to kill Chet and Marissa? I will leave that up to you.

I hope you enjoyed The Two, and please, leave a comment, share to your social media pages and like it as well. I thank you from the top of my heart.

A.J.

 

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